Trackpad-tuning MacBook Air for Windows 8 + 8.1

You’ve installed Windows 8 on a MacBook Air using Boot Camp, but the trackpad just doesn’t work like it did in OS X! No problem. There are a number of things I’ve found* that make it better, and they’re all free. I’m quite happy with the trackpad after following these steps:

Install Apple’s trackpad driver: It’s required for everything that follows.

To see if you have the driver installed, check in Windows’ Device Manager: under “Human Interface Devices” you should see “Apple Multitouch” and “Apple Multitouch Mouse.” You can get to Device Manager, and a couple of the other things you’ll use in this article, by pressing Command/Windows-X.

If you don’t see these you can download the latest version of Apple’s Boot Camp drivers at http://www.apple.com/support/bootcamp/downloads/. Just unzip the package & run setup.exe. Reboot for good measure afterwards.

Change “Tap to Click” (and other preferences) using Apple’s Boot Camp Control Panel:

  1. Open the Boot Camp control panel (it’s hiding under the old Windows 7-ish Control Panel, and as an icon in the Desktop notification area)
  2. Answer “Yes” to the question about whether you want to let this app do dastardly things to your computer
  3. In the resulting “Boot Camp Control Panel” switch to the “Trackpad” tab

My favorite preference is “Tap to Click.” I find the MacBook Air’s trackpad too stiff for click-to-click. After you turn this on, you may notice tap-to-click often doesn’t work on the lock screen, and doesn’t work for perhaps 20 seconds after you unlock — I think the driver takes a while to load — but otherwise it works as it did in OS X.

Reverse the vertical and horizontal scroll directions:

Some of us like Apple’s “natural scrolling”, where the trackpad matches direct manipulation instead of mouse motion. You can get the same behavior on any Windows computer by manually editing preferences:

  1. Hit Windows, type “Regedit” and press Enter/Return
  2. Answer “Yes”, I Know If I Torque Preferences By Hand I Could Break My Computer
  3. Expand the tree on the left side of Regedit through HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, SYSTEM, CurrentControlSet, Enum, HID.
  4. You should see a number of items under HID that start with VID. Expand each of these until you can see each’s Device Parameters… some will have Device Parameters, some will not.
  5. Click each Device Parameters.  If on the right side FlipFlopWheel is shown, double-click FlipFlopWheel, type “1” (without the quotes) in place of “0” and click OK. This fixes vertical panning. Do the same for FlipFlopHScroll if you want horizontal panning au naturel. (I think you’ll like it.)
  6. Restart the computer (Windows + I, Power, Restart.)

Update: In the comments Glauco mentioned an app that does this process for you. Check it out!

Make scrolling & panning less touchy

You can make scrolling & panning less touchy with a standard Windows preference:

  1. Hit Windows + W to search in settings (er, Command + W), and type “scrolling.”
  2. From the search results click “Change mouse wheel settings”
  3. Change the number of lines and number of characters settings to 1. (Mine were at 3.)

Please let me know if any of these helped, or if you run into trouble.

 * The MacBook model I tried this with is a 13″ late-2011 MacBook Air running Mountain Lion.

** I tried Trackpad++, an alternative to the Apple driver, a few months ago. Although it provided some additional options, which you may need if the steps above don’t do it for you, it was more downside than upside. Whereas what I do now, the steps above, are all upside.